The world's most popular mobile OS turns 10 years old today

The world's most popular mobile OS turns 10 years old today
Ten years ago today, the most popular mobile OS in the world was introduced as the first Android powered phone, the T-Mobile G1, was announced. The handset, built by HTC, featured a QWERTY slider, and was equipped with a trackball. At the time, T-Mobile wasn't the innovative carrier it is today, so the release of the G1 (aka the HTC Dream) was clearly a test of the software.

The first publicly released build of Android (v1.1) was missing a few things such as a native video player, and a virtual QWERTY keyboard. The update to Android 1.5 Cupcake took care of the latter, and the Android Market offered apps to fill in some of the blanks. But the important thing was that Android offered customizations not available on the Apple iPhone 3G.

Android did not go straight to the top of the charts. It wasn't until Verizon released the Android 2.0 powered Motorola DROID on November 5th, 2009, that Google's open source mobile OS was stuffed inside hardware that could challenge the iPhone. Motorola and Verizon teamed up to produce the DROID Does ad campaign. Taking an obvious shot at the iPhone, the tag line was that everything iDon't, DROID Does. Starting with Android 2.2 Froyo, the OS started supporting Adobe Flash. Google hoped that this would differentiate Android handsets from the iPhone, but Flash ended up a disaster for Android users instead. It hogged resources and made Android phones supporting it lag badly.

Following up on the success of the DROID, Google released the Nexus One. Not only did it feature the strongest hardware to date for an Android phone, it kicked off Google's Nexus program. Nexus handsets featured stock Android, which meant that they were the first handsets to receive updates. This was a big selling point; with Android used by multiple manufacturers, rolling out updates required each manufacturer to run tests. This so-called fragmentation still occurs today and is the reason why less than .1% of active Android phones are running the latest version of Android. Google ended the program with 2015's Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, replacing it with its own line of Google Pixel handsets.


Unlike the rigid iPhone, which at the time had just one screen-size (3.5-inches), Android manufacturers were already looking to see how they could stretch the hardware. Phones like the Motorola DROID X carried a 4.3-inch display. By the third quarter of 2010, Android was the second most popular mobile OS in the world with 25.5% of the global smartphone market, trailing only the 36.6% share belonging to Symbian. Apple's iOS was third with a 16.7% slice of the pie. The year before, Symbian was loaded on a leading 44.6% of handsets and BlackBerry OS was on 20.7%. Android was an afterthought with a 3.5% market share.

The very next quarter, Q4 of 2010, Android became the most popular mobile OS, found on nearly one out of every smartphones. Symbian dropped to second (30.6%), and iOS (16%) was third. Manufacturers like HTC continued to experiment by releasing phones such as the EVO 3D. After a rocky debut, Samsung's Galaxy S line struck smartphone gold with  the Galaxy S II, and Motorola was the first to grace a smartphone with a fingerprint scanner (Motorola Atrix 4G).

In 2011, Google rolled out Android 3.1 Honeycomb for tablets, and Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 for phones. The Motorola XOOM slate was the first to feature Honeycomb, which offered a two panel view for email and contacts. But Google killed off Honeycomb fairly quickly, seeing no reason to offer two separate operating systems for phones and tablets. As the years went by, Android went from strength-to-strength. There was Jelly Bean, the big commercial tie-up with KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat and Oreo. The latest  version, Android 9 Pie, is currently available for the Pixel handsets, the Essential Phone and the OnePlus 6.


Today, Android dominates the smartphone market. According to Statista, during the second quarter of 2018, 88% of smartphones purchased world-wide had Android installed. Apple's iOS was next with an 11.9% share.

10 years ago today, Android was unveiled and even though it showed promise, no one could have imagined how dominant it would turn out to be. So blow out the candles and sing Happy Birthday to the most popular mobile OS in the world.

source: Statista

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38 Comments

1. cncrim

Posts: 1588; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Happy 10th birthday.

4. Phullofphil

Posts: 1789; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I fell in love with my Moto droid and yes it had gingerbread. But I was so sick of this guy bragging about his iPhone. I lived in a little denial with my Samsung omnia and windows mobile. But this Moto droid was to me better than the iPhone. It was the first phone I started to root and flash my own version of android. That part was fun until android started to make rooting not necessary. I think to this day I would have to put those times baking my own android roms and doing other things the best times on a smartphone. Everything was so fresh and innovative and just raw fun. It’s different now. I switched to the iPhone on the iPhone 4 went back to a couple Samsung phones then I met my wife and was pushed kicking and screaming back to apple. Happy birthday android I don’t miss you but then again I do.

13. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I loved my Motorola Droid! I was dating a girl back then that had an iPhone and whenever she was playing on the thing, I'd call her phone just to close out whatever app she was using, something I never had to worry about.... No wonder why that relationship didn't last. LOL.

15. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Android is still the only platform that gives you bleeding edge in smartphone technology. The only platform you can customize the crap out of. Without the need to root, or jailbreak on another platform. Plus you have tablet, desktop options, features, and functionality with Android smartphones and phablets. Which you get none of that with any iPhone. Look at the latest iPhone XS Max for proof. It's just a bigger 6.5" iPhone, and that is all. Android you get to do a lot more. Why to go Android.

20. TMHKR

Posts: 202; Member since: Dec 08, 2012

"Without the need to root" - well, not exactly. Try something more than cosmetic changes without root

24. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Rooting no longer give any advantages, unless you have a phone that you can easily install another firmware. Which on most branded phones you cant. I did root early Galaxy devices just to see what it was all about. But like jailbreaking it was too much work. Rooting brings zero benefit to me that my phone already does.

39. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Rooting may not give you any advantages. There are sure still advantages for 'power' users. But the number of advantages have gone down, especially when you can just give certain permissions using ADB.

37. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

You mean like gestures, multitasking, signing documents & taking pictures with an S-Pen?

29. Phullofphil

Posts: 1789; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I went from an iPhone X to an Xs max. Your right it is just a bigger iPhone. That’s what I like about it. But it’s an upgrade over the x besides size. The hardware on the inside feels way better and the camera takes awesom photos. But as fate as taking advantage of the bigger screen that would be iOS. As iOS goes it does do different things when it comes to turning your phone sideways but to me it could do more. The thing is I don’t know if I need to much more. Won’t know until I do it but still not sure

16. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

LMFAO! Good one.

18. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Let it be known that I never claim to be a good person... I'm actually a rather horrible individual. But I'm trying to do better.

23. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

I know. Isnt that so stupid? Why does the phone ringing tane up the whole screen. It should just be a notification type alert that you tap if you want too. I love iOS, but there are some stupid quirks about how they chose to do the UI.

2. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

Android has come a long way. Gingerbread was so $#¡π¥. I'd look at my phone & an app would crash. Didn't matter which phone either. Glad everything gradually got better starting with ICS.

14. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Meh, I had a positive experience with my Droid... granted it's horrible by today's standards, but it was a time when everyone was still exploring the mobile platform.

17. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

I worked for Sprint & AT&T during that time. Maybe Gingerbread affected the newer phones worse. My Droid X2 was terrible on GB whereas my OG Droid ran great, but I never liked the physical keyboard on it.

19. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Yeah, that was a feature I was super excited about that I actually never used.

3. kozza3

Posts: 778; Member since: Oct 17, 2012

Yay Android!

5. surethom

Posts: 1691; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

That's gone quick I've been an Android user for 9 years now. I wanted an iPhone but there refusal to use widgets on home screen I waited for anddroid, moved from Windows phone.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Android has evolved so much over the years. Super cool OS.

11. gamehead unregistered

The best mobile os

25. rouyal

Posts: 1582; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

Most popular, free =/= best

34. iushnt

Posts: 3097; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

As a consumer neither you have to pay for iOS nor Android.

12. OneLove123

Posts: 1065; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

I love being free and not being told what to do or how to use stuff.

26. path45th

Posts: 404; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

And in the process you are entirely owned by Google.

41. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Like it's any different with Apple. Once you are highly invested in the eco-system, they own your ass.

36. rouyal

Posts: 1582; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

At the expense of being tracked, search history collected, and activity used to sell ads.

38. mootu

Posts: 1517; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

Apple tracks it's users, Apple collects your search history and a lot more. It's all available to view in thier privacy policy.

40. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Just turn all that stuff off and you're not tracked. Or tell Google don't use personalizes ads. Or use a Google for Business account.

21. TMHKR

Posts: 202; Member since: Dec 08, 2012

Yet, a mere glance at the version distribution chart calls for a long-overdue change of update policy. Google must, and I mean MUST force manufacturers to issue updates, regardless of device being a basic or flagship one. The phrase "device is not powerful enough for newer versions" is an insult to the industry.

22. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

After using WinMO, BB and Palm OS, Andeoid was a nice change. I never had a Symbian phone. But it seems Android and Nokia could have owned the smartphone market. My first Android was a Nexua One. I only bought it because if that live wallpaper it had with the lines. But I didnt like the phone overall I tried again with a Droid Charge, which was the Android version of the Focus with Win MO. I did like the HTC Incredible, and Thunderbolt.. I tried to stay with BTC for a while, including getting Touch Pro device. But it wasn't until the S2 Plus on TMo did I actually really like Andeoidt and I've stated with them ever sense. Phones that run basic Android are boring. I may as well get an iPhone I stead. But TouchWiz brought a nice feel that I likes over Sense, which I also loved. I wanted a Note so bad, but VZW skipped the first so i waited for the 2nd. Not having to jail real just to theme the UI, was cool.I needed an open file system, like I had with WinMo. I did try iOS with the 4 and 4s, but that was a downgrade and still is for me. To each his own though. Andeoid is where it is because it offers the same benefits as Windows. Options for everyone in whatever price range, plenty of useful features and offers the flexibility I want and need. IOS got a headstart. If it wasnt for Android, we'd be stuck with expensive phones that just look pretty and have no function. Yet people claim iOS created Android. No IOS told Google what not to do.

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